Trilby Kent studied at Oxford and the LSE and worked for a time in the rare books department of a London auction house. She has written for the Canadian and British national press and in 2010 was shortlisted in the Guardian's International Development Journalism Competition. She is the author of two novels for children and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Exeter University. She lives in London.
Corlie Roux's farm life in South Africa is not easy: the Transvaal is beautiful, but it is also a harsh place where the heat can be so intense that even raindrops sizzle. When her beloved father dies, she is left with a mother who is as devoted to her sons as she is cruel to her daughter. Despite this, Corlie finds comfort in her friend, Sipho, and in Africa itself and in the stories she creates for her brothers. But Corlie's world is about to vanish: the British are invading and driving Boer families like hers from their farms. Some escape into the bush to fight the enemy. The unlucky ones are rounded up and sent to internment camps. Will Corlie's strength and devotion to her country sustain her through the suffering and misery she finds in the camp at Kroonstad? That may depend on a soldier from faraway Canada and on inner resources Corlie never dreamed she had -
Glen has left England to live with her aunt, who runs a tea plantation in Ceylon and fills her days with good works, among them the task of writing letters to a Belgian prisoner. But the letters go astray, and are received instead by Marten, eager to discover the wide world outside his small village, and desperately missing his older brother Krelis, who has vanished and is presumed dead. Marten decides to reply to Glen in the guise of the grown-up prisoner she is expecting to hear from, and as their correspondence evolves, they both assume identities that, while false in many respects, remain true to their own selves in other ways. Gradually they come to depend on each other, and their pen friendship proves to be crucial when events in their real lives take on a darker, more threatening significance in the shadow of the impending world war.
September 1953. Fourteen-year-old Barney Holland is promised a fresh start when he is offered a place at a boarding school on the remote North Sea island of Lindsey. Instead, he is shunned by his peers both for his status as a charity pupil and for being the replacement of a recently deceased student, the popular Cray. The arrival of Belinda Flood, a housemaster's daughter stigmatized by her expulsion from another school, provides Barney with an unexpected ally. Both outsiders soon fall under the influence of charismatic senior pupil, Ivor Morrell, who reigns over the forbidden corners of the school: an abandoned fallout shelter and a haunted basement corridor. A gruesome find and the friendship with a local woman rumoured to have been a wartime collaborator draw the three into an increasingly dangerous web of personal and social shame. Gripped by mounting horror at his discovery of secrets harboured by the isolated school community, Barney personifies the struggle of a young peace-time generation finding its way out of the shadow of war.A shocking climax reveals a lurking threat more immediate than he'd imagined, adding even greater urgency to his desire to escape the island - and its haunted past - once and for all.